Ride to Cure.

The Thai doctor who uses his BMW GS to tend to the sick people.

To his friends and patients he is better known as Dr. Louis. Not far from Bangkok, in the Emergency department at the Eakchai Hospital, Dr. Ponlakrit Jantarasopark saves lives and patches up the wounded. But when he’s not attending to the sick and injured in the ER, there’s nothing Dr. Louis likes better than riding his BMW motorcycle — especially when it takes him to remote places where his expert skills as a doctor and a rider are tested to the maximum.

Dedication and devotion.

Dr. Louis has been riding for more than ten years and has used motorcycling as a means to see other places and cultures. As a younger man he explored Thailand extensively before venturing over the border into neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, then travelling further overseas to places such as Japan and even going as far as Europe to discover the Alps on two wheels. But Dr. Louis’ ‘journey of healing’ began around five years ago, when he would hit the road at least two to three times a year on his BMW R 1200 GS Adventure to tend to the injured and sick people in remote communities who require urgent medical attention. It’s a service he performs and finances himself, riding a BMW bike that is fully kitted out with all the medical resources and equipment he needs.

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Dr. Louis is, however, not the first in his family to use a BMW bike to reach those in need. His strong desire to provide this vital medical outreach service was undoubtedly inspired by his grandfather, a former doctor who would head out on his BMW R 69 to treat the ill and infirm in many hard-to-reach places, while his mother, a school teacher, would take the role of the nurse.

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Out of their own pockets.

Out of their own pockets.

He has valuable support in this philanthropic venture from his wife, Dr. Panjai Wongwiriya, who joins him on two wheels to travel around the country as they strategically map out their destinations in order to provide medicine and other essentials to treat diseases and cure people from all kinds of illnesses. The majority of the villages they visit lack access to proper medical care due to their remote locations and poor living conditions.

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There’s no financial support for their venture, or sponsorship. The two medics fund the service out of their own pockets and from the kindness of their own hearts. Their latest destination is Tambol Sakae Rat in the Korat Province. This remote district has only one scheduled visit from the local medical authority per year, but if there has been any kind of natural disaster such as storms or heavy flooding where the roads are blocked, these medical units simply move on to the next available destination on their schedule and choose to not return. This leaves the villagers hopelessly waiting in vain for help that never actually arrives. This is not acceptable to Dr. Louis, who believes that even the smallest intervention can make a big difference to those most in need.

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“We conducted a survey of all the villages in the province and came to the conclusion that the inhabitants of Tambol Sakae Rat were most in need of our help,” says Dr. Louis, who has been going there every year on his BMW GS. “Every trip I do, I bring a supply of common household medicines and I teach the village elders and local teachers to administer them to those in need. I also make sure I bring additional supplies of medicines for the times of the year the village can’t be accessed due to extreme weather conditions.”

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The BMW R 1200 GS’s safety features saved my skin and dragged me right out of many tight situations.

Dr. Ponlakrit Jantarasopark

Help and support right where it’s needed.

Help and support right where it’s needed.

The most serious diseases are diabetes and high blood pressure, which need constant medical attention and continuous treatment. Dr. Louis also encounters those with pulmonary tuberculosis and even HIV. These diseases come from those who travel and work in the big cities and then return to their home town. They are uneducated about the risks of these conditions and disperse them unknowingly, which at times makes them all the more difficult to contain.

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“I am planning a return trip there in the next months before the rain season arrives,” confirms Dr. Louis. “I’ve been back every year for the past five years. I’m delighted that my wife and myself can use our skills to contribute to the social welfare of our own people. It is something that really fits our lifestyle as well as our life goals.”

As well as the vital medical supplies, the good doctor also brings a container of sweets and candy for the villagers, with the simple aim of bringing as much happiness as possible to them on the visit. The doctors sleep in their own tents or sometimes inside the monks’ cubicle, so as not to disturb or burden the villagers.

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The ‘go-anywhere’ GS.

The ‘go-anywhere’ GS.

The doctor enjoys the challenge of reaching places where roads are no more than jungle tracks and the chance of staying on the bike are slim at best. But knowing his bike is strong and doesn’t give up, he won’t give up either.

“Peper Hill in Chiang Mai Province was where I visited and supported the villagers on my very first BMW R 1200 GS,” reminisces Dr. Louis. “I remember it was in a terrible condition, difficult to reach, with steep inclines and tricky descents too. We had to be extra careful and watch the tracks closely.” The route was slippery and deeply rutted. He fell many times and it took him over eight hours to cover a distance of just 40 kilometres. There were no signs or GPS coverage. “I can say with confidence that the BMW R 1200 GS’s safety features saved my skin throughout that entire trip and dragged me right out of many tight situations.”

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R 1200 GS.

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The gift of happiness.

The gift of happiness.

We all know that a BMW GS allows you to explore distant horizons but Dr. Louis believes it will go even further than that, with its inert ability and readiness to go anywhere you want, at any time you want it to. “I’ve been exploring the world with the R 1200 GS Adventure for the past years, I’m still discovering new things and wanting to learn new ways how to ride it more effectively and perfectly each day.” He feels blessed to be able to use his motorcycle and to have the chance to make these journeys with his wife to help the villagers in such remote places. “Children are immediately attracted to big bikes like the GS. Their eyes light up with excitement, happiness and for one moment they forget about their sickness. This has significant effects and improvement on their emotional health. In my opinion, this gift of happiness is priceless.”

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